Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bourke Parakeets: Determining Sex

Nest box being attached in February to begin new season
of breeding, egg laying and raising of young Bourkes.
On Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 1:35 AM, David wrote:
Hi Rosie,
I’m trying to sex 2 bourkes. One is the wild type the other being a Rosie.
Hope you may be able to help.
Baby Bourke at 9 days old, ready for banding with
Budgie sized bands. His feet are at maximum length.
Any bigger and he couldn't have been banded.
On Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 10:53 AM,
Rosie Bird wrote:

Hello David,
Wild types are easy once they are mature. Males have a tiny line of blue feathers over the cere (nostrils). Females don't have that. Males are also slightly brighter in pink and blue areas, with brighter turquoise in shoulders. However, this feature varies between birds. So, the blue line above their cere is the main determining factor.
Normal Bourke Parakeet. This is a male. His colors
are slightly brighter than the hen's. Male Bourkes of
the wild variety also have a tiny line of blue feathers
above the cere (nostrils). Difficult to see in this photo.
Normal Bourke hen and chicks.

As for Rosies, only their behavior will give them away, short of having them DNA'd. Once mature, males will often display in ways that hens do not. They also seem to sing more and occasionally wolf whistle.

When I'm going to sell young Rosies and am unsure of their sex, I've sometimes sent a tiny blood sample in for DNAing. It requires clipping a toenail slightly short, dabbing a smear of blood on a card, and then dipping the "injured" toe into corn starch to staunch any further bleeding. I resisted doing that for years, but once done, I realized how easy it was and didn't seem to hurt the little birds. I use Health Gene in Canada. It's only $12 and they send a lovely certificate that follows up after an email giving the sex of the bird.

Below is a copy from The Splendid Bourke Bird Blog on BlogSpot. If you go there and enter "Sexing" into the Search Box, you will get lots of posts on this topic.

"Male Bourkes throw their shoulders back and flair their wings slightly at the shoulder, standing tall. I call this strutting. You won't see a hen do this and males do it at a very young age.

Hens take longer to behave like hens. If there is a male bird present they squat down and raise their tail, cheeping, (preferably for another Bourke, but I've seen them display for other parakeet varieties when no male Bourke is around). On rare occasions I've seen a male do this in front of a hen who doesn't want to mate...I think he's showing her how. :-) Birds have preferences for their mates too."

Peace and Blessings,

An Oregon Coast Sunset taken above Larson Slough,
about five miles from our home.